In keeping with its mission to promote interfaith tolerance and appreciation, Yale’s Multifaith Council added five new members shortly before spring break.
The council gives students of different religious beliefs the chance to come together to discuss ideas pertinent to religions world-wide. The group has over a dozen undergraduate members representing about seven different religions, and hopes to maintain an average of two students from each religion, Assistant University Chaplain Reverend Cynthia Terry said.
“We’re always trying to bring in people with new traditions, as well as expand some of the traditions we already have,” Rebecca Kirkpatrick DIV ’04, co-coordinator of the council, said.
Terry, the other coordinator of the council, said she sent an e-mail asking for representatives from the Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, and Jain faiths.
Sara Aronchick ’05, a new Jewish member of the council, said she had seen posters advertising Multifaith Council events around campus but had not considered joining until she received the e-mail from Terry. Aronchick said she jumped at the opportunity because, having attended an all-Jewish high school, she wanted to learn from a multiplicity of religions.
“I just wanted to sit at a table with so many different religions,” she said.
Kirkpatrick said she hopes the council will continue to grow and eventually draw representatives from most, if not all, religions on campus.
The council’s initial purpose was to advise the Chaplain’s Office, Terry said, but its mission has expanded to include interfaith activities planning. The council organizes several “Moveable Feast” discussions during the course of the year, each of which have a topic or theme that applies to all religions, she said.
Leah Rubin-Cadrain ’07, a new Unitarian Universalist member of the council, said she was drawn to the council when she attended a “Moveable Feast” this past fall.
Rubin-Cadrain said she joined in part because she has been looking for a “spiritually implicit setting.”
“I’ve been really missing a church since I’ve been here,” she said.
Rubin-Cadrain said she wants to use the council to help generate a Unitarian presence on campus. As of right now, the closest Unitarian church is in Hamden, she said.
“I would hope to create some sort of Unitarian group for students on campus,” she said.
The council is currently planning several events, Aronchick said. Another feast — with a food, culture and religion theme — has been planned for March 25 at the Asian-American Cultural Center, Kirkpatrick said.
Rebekah Emanuel ’06, a Jewish representative on the council, said she is spearheading a weekend of volunteer service beginning April 25 as part of a national religious initiative on college campuses. The council hopes to offer students a chance to work at several sites near New Haven, including the Connecticut Food Bank.
Terry said the weekend, which will coincide with a multifaith retreat, should provide an opportunity to ask “what about our tradition urges us towards helping others.”
Terry said the council has several other plans in the works for next year. She said the council hopes to organize a series of talks at which speakers from different faiths address the same questions.
Kirkpatrick said the council will continue to look for new members as well as initiate new interfaith opportunities.
“We’re focusing in on expanding not only the council but also the activities it offers,” she said.
Kirkpatrick also said she urges students from different faiths to join.
“It’s fun,” she said. “If people are interested in joining the council, they’re more than welcome.”
Rubin-Cadrain said she was pleased the council accepted her and the other new members with open arms.
“I was surprised how easy it was to become a member,” she said. “It was a testament to how welcoming the council is.”